Washington State Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission Report. Comparison of Performance Outcomes. December 2012

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1 Washington State Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission 1103 Report Comparison of Performance Outcomes December 2012

2 Table of Contents Executive Summary Introduction and Background Licensing activities: Comparison of efficiency, effectiveness, timeliness, personnel and financial resources Nursing education activities: Comparison of efficiency, effectiveness, timeliness, personnel and financial resources Disciplinary activities: Comparison of efficiency, effectiveness, timeliness, personnel and financial resources Financial resources: Comparison of Operating expenses Summary Appendix A: RCW Pilot Project, Nursing Commission Appendix B: Operating Agreement Appendix C: Institutional Review Board Exemption and Memoranda of Understanding from Arizona and North Carolina Appendix D: 2008 Nursing Commission Decision Packages One page descriptions of licensing, discipline and Washington Health Professional Services packages Appendix E: National Council of State Boards of Nursing Board of Nursing Surveys Washington Board of Nursing Survey 2. Arizona Board of Nursing Survey 3. North Carolina Board of Nursing Survey 4. Index to item codes on Board of Nursing Surveys Appendix F: ARNP regulatory activities Acknowledgements

3 Executive Summary In 2008, the Washington State legislature passed and Governor Christine Gregoire signed House Bill 1103 to assess the impact of increased authority for the Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission (Nursing Commission) on measures of its performance. The statute, RCW , required the Nursing Commission to conduct a pilot project and evaluate the effect of granting additional authority over budget development, spending and staffing. The statute required the Nursing Commission to report on the results of the pilot project using negotiated performance measures on licensing, disciplinary and financial outcomes. The report from the Secretary of Health details those comparisons with Washington boards and commissions. This report focuses on: the Nursing Commission s performance at the beginning of the pilot project; achievements made and innovations implemented during the pilot project; and, a review of summaries of national research and data regarding regulatory effectiveness and patient safety. This report demonstrates that increased authority allowed the Nursing Commission to secure additional financial resources and needed staffing. Increased licensing fees supported adequate staffing for licensing, investigation and the chemical dependency monitoring program to: avoid denying access to potential participants of the Washington Health Professionals Services program; increase the number of completed investigations by 71%; decrease the backlog of investigative cases by 34%; decrease the amount of time used in investigations by 37%; and, increase efficiencies in licensing; licensing decisions now occur on the same day as receipt of final documents. The Nursing Commission evaluated its performance with the boards of nursing in Arizona and North Carolina using a national database collected by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. Both the Arizona and North Carolina boards have more independent authority than the authority granted to the Nursing Commission in the pilot project. The evaluation found: Licensing: Arizona and North Carolina collect more FBI background information on potential licensees than the Nursing Commission. Both Arizona and North Carolina regulate nursing assistants in addition to nurses. Discipline: Arizona dedicates more full time equivalent employees to investigations and disciplinary activity than the Nursing Commission. Both Arizona and North Carolina resolve cases using less time. Financial resources: Both Arizona and North Carolina use less funding to complete disciplinary functions than the Nursing Commission. The Nursing Commission improved its performance with the additional authority over budget development, spending and staffing. The data comparison with the state boards of nursing in Arizona and North Carolina demonstrated even greater performance could be achieved if the Nursing Commission s authority was similar to the Arizona and North Carolina boards of nursing. Washington State Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission 1103 Report 3

4 Introduction and Background The Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission (Nursing Commission) regulates the licensure, discipline and practice of nursing in Washington State. The purpose of the Nursing Commission (RCW ) is to:....regulate the competency and quality of professional health care providers under its jurisdiction by establishing, monitoring, and enforcing qualifications for licensing, consistent standards of practice, continuing competency mechanisms, and discipline. Rules, policies, and procedures developed by the commission must promote the delivery of quality health care to the residents of the state of Washington. The Nursing Commission regulates over 100,000 licensed practical nurses (LPN), registered nurses (RN), and advanced registered nurse practitioners (ARNP). In 2008, the Washington State Legislature passed and Governor Christine Gregoire signed House Bill This bill amended the Nursing Practice Act by adding RCW (full text in Appendix A). The law granted the Nursing Commission additional authority over budget development, spending, and staffing. The legislation required the Nursing Commission to participate in a pilot project. The law required the Nursing Commission to compare licensing, disciplinary, and financial outcomes using performance measures with other boards and commissions prior to and during the pilot project. The report from the Secretary of Health compares the Nursing Commission s performance measures with other Washington boards and commissions, and performance prior to the pilot project. This report summarizes the Nursing Commission s performance on licensing, nursing education, discipline and financial measures. The Nursing Commission included nursing education due to its fundamental relationship with licensing. Each section includes: The Nursing Commission s performance at the beginning of the pilot project; achievements made and innovations implemented during the pilot project; and, comparison with national research and data regarding regulatory effectiveness and patient safety. The Nursing Commission s performance continually improved throughout the pilot project in licensing, disciplinary and financial outcomes. The Nursing Commission is grateful to Governor Gregoire and the legislature for the opportunity to participate in the pilot project and the additional authority granted for budget and personnel. This additional authority provided the Nursing Commission with the ability to develop decision packages. The decision packages documented the need to increase staffing and the licensing fee to support the necessary resources. These resources assisted the Nursing Commission in improving their performance and meeting the targets of the negotiated performance measures. Licensing fees support all Nursing Commission expenses. No general fund dollars are used. Washington State Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission 1103 Report 4

5 According to the pilot project law, the executive director position changed. The executive director was to serve at the pleasure of the Nursing Commission as an exempt employee through June 30, This moved the reporting relationship for the executive director from the Department of Health to the Nursing Commission. Employees continued to report to the Secretary of the Department of Health. While the Nursing Commission improved its performance during the pilot project, the data comparison with a national database showed that even improved performance could be reached in areas such as education approval, disciplinary and financial outcomes. The Nursing Commission compared their performance with the state boards of nursing in Arizona and North Carolina. The titles board of nursing and Nursing Commission both refer to state regulatory bodies. Both Arizona and North Carolina have more authority than granted to the Nursing Commission during the pilot project. Both Arizona and North Carolina demonstrated more effective licensing measures and greater efficiency in investigative and financial measures. The data comparison with the state boards of nursing in Arizona and North Carolina demonstrated even greater performance could be achieved if the Nursing Commission s authority was similar. The Nursing Commission used the Commitment to Ongoing Regulatory Excellence (CORE) data and research collected by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) for the comparison with Arizona and North Carolina. According to the NCSBN: The purpose of this project [CORE] is the establishment of a performance measurement system that incorporates data collection from internal and external sources, and the use of benchmarking strategies and identification of best practices. A key element of this system is the monitoring of performance on outcome-oriented indicators. Such performance monitoring will simultaneously provide accountability to the state's citizens and assist nursing boards to better manage and improve its services to its customers and citizens throughout the states. Performance information also provides a basis for strategic planning and a starting point for benchmarking and identification of best practices. (NCSBN, 2012, NCSBN.org/984.htm, Commitment to Ongoing Regulatory Excellence, para. 2-3.) Boards of nursing voluntarily submit data to CORE using surveys developed by the NCSBN. The CORE surveys collect data on licensing, disciplinary, financial and personnel measures. The CORE measures are not an exact match with the performance measures adopted in Washington but share striking similarities. The full CORE survey collects data from four sources: employers, nurses, nursing education programs and the board of nursing. The Nursing Commission compared 57 measures from the CORE board of nursing survey directly related to the performance measures required in RCW The Nursing Commission asked the question: Does increased authority of the state board of nursing influence performance outcomes? There are three recognized governance structures for state boards of nursing related to their authority: umbrella, semi-autonomous and independent. This report uses the following descriptions of umbrella, semi-autonomous and independent governance structures. These are not legal definitions, nor could they be found in Washington State Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission 1103 Report 5

6 dictionary sources. Regulatory personnel commonly use the definitions to describe differences in governance structures. The umbrella structure has the most centralized decision-making organized under a state agency. QFinance defines an umbrella organization as organization embracing several member organizations, a large organization that includes a number of member organizations and works to protect their shared interests. 1 With state boards of nursing, an umbrella structure refers to a state board working within a state agency. The state agency has authority and responsibilities functions and the state board has defined authority and responsibilities. Laws often describe the authority and the functions. A semi-autonomous state board of nursing often has more independence, authority and responsibility than a board in an umbrella organization. There is wide variation in semiautonomous boards. Most semi-autonomous boards have a percentage of their licensure revenues deposited into the state general fund to pay for state overhead; e.g., risk management and human resources. Usually, there is oversight or association with the governor s office and reporting relationships with the executive branch. The governor appoints board members for specific terms of office. A fully independent state board of nursing has no direct relationship to a branch of government. The independent board collects fees to support expenses, does not contribute a percentage of licensure fees to the state general fund, and has full budgetary authority and responsibility for its revenue and expenditure of its funds. The Nursing Commission is an umbrella structure, sharing regulatory responsibilities with the Washington State Department of Health. An Operating Agreement (Appendix B) defines the relationship between the Department of Health and the Nursing Commission. The Nursing Commission originally proposed to compare its CORE performance data with three boards of nursing. Two of the three state boards of nursing were to have governance structures different from the Nursing Commission and one board of nursing with an umbrella structure. The Nursing Commission also proposed using states with nursing populations similar to the nursing population in Washington State. The Nursing Commission approached three boards of nursing with umbrella structures to participate in the study. Two of the three state boards of nursing (Indiana and Virginia) did not submit CORE data by the date of publication of this report. The third state, Wisconsin, declined participation. Previous collections of CORE data identified both the Arizona state board of nursing and North Carolina board of nursing as high performing boards of licensing, disciplinary and financial performance. The Arizona state board of nursing is a semi-autonomous board, each member appointed by its governor. The Arizona state board of nursing is accountable for its budget, personnel and outcomes and conducts an annual sunset review. The North Carolina board of nursing is a fully independent board, with all board members elected by nurses. The North Carolina board is not a state agency. The Nursing Commission then chose to compare its CORE 1 QFinance Dictionary, definition of umbrella organization, Washington State Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission 1103 Report 6

7 performance measures with the Arizona state board of nursing and the North Carolina board of nursing. The Nursing Commission requested and was granted an exemption from the Department of Social and Health Services Institutional Review Board to conduct the research. The CORE data are not related to human subjects. The data are also publicly discloseable upon request to the participating states. The Nursing Commission officially requested the Arizona state board of nursing and the North Carolina board of nursing to share its CORE data through memoranda of understanding (Appendix C). Washington State Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission 1103 Report 7

8 Licensing activities: Comparison of efficiency, effectiveness, timelines, personnel and financial resources Prior to the Pilot Project Licensing decisions clearly affect public safety. Delays in reviewing applications could lead to unnecessary delays in licensing qualified nurses to deliver patient care. Delays could lead to unnecessary time taken to deny a license. Prior to the pilot project, the Nursing Commission s performance in licensing applicants did not meet the expectations of nursing employers, nurses, or the staff. Another factor affecting licensure was a predicted shortage of nurses to care for our state s population. Presented with this looming shortage, colleges and universities added new nursing programs and admitted more students. The additions increased the number of graduates. The increase in graduates resulted in more applications for licensure, thereby increasing the Nursing Commission s workload in areas such as background checks, transcripts, examinations, communication with applicants, data entry, application denials, revenue, bad checks and legal proceedings related to denial of licensure. Achievements made and innovations implemented during the Pilot Project The Nursing Commission developed a decision package seeking the resources necessary to improve the licensing process and to respond to the projected growth in the number of nurses in Washington State. The decision package identified increasing licensing fees as a way to secure needed resources. The Nursing Commission subsequently received support from professional nursing associations, unions, employers, and educators to increase fees to improve overall licensing services. In late 2008, the Nursing Commission presented decision packages (Appendix D) to Governor Gregoire for consideration. Governor Gregoire included the packages in her proposed budget for 2009 that the Legislature approved as well. Figure 1 demonstrates the annual increase in licenses issued prior to the pilot project ( ) and during the pilot project ( ). Licensing process. To measure efficiency, Washington licensing authorities measure the length of time from the date the final document is received to the date of a licensing decision. In Washington, the target for this measure is 14 days from the receipt of the final document to licensure. The CORE measure also used this date of receipt of the final document to the licensing decision to measure licensing efficiency. Licensing is not always a streamlined process. Some applications may be incomplete due to missing information. For nursing applications, there may be missing transcripts or the results of the National Council Licensure Examination, the NCLEX. Washington State Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission 1103 Report 8

9 Year 2006 Year 2007 Year 2008 Year 2009 Year 2010 Year 2011 Figure 1: Nursing licenses issued per year, Source: Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission, Department of Health, Olympia, Washington Two licensure application processes exist: initial examination and endorsement. New graduates of nursing education programs submit an initial examination application. The correct licensure fee must accompany the application. Staff enters application data, reviews the application to assure all licensing requirements are met, and evaluates required documents. All new graduates must complete an education program approved by a state board of nursing, request official transcripts from the nursing education program, and successfully pass the NCLEX examination. A nurse licensed in another state may request licensure in Washington. This is a request for endorsement of the license and the nurse submits an endorsement application. Background checks. After receiving an application, staff in the Nursing Commission Unit reviews three databases for background information on every application: 1. A Washington State Patrol background check is required for applicants with a Washington address. An FBI background check is required for applicants possessing an out of state address. 2. The Healthcare Integrity and Portability database, or HIPDB, is a federal database. Federal regulation requires all health care regulatory bodies to report disciplinary actions to the HIPDB. 3. The NurSYS database is an unduplicated database of all nurses licensed in the United States and territories. Individual nurses can be licensed in multiple states, but the individual has only one record in NurSYS. A positive background check could include felony and misdemeanor convictions or action on a license in another state. A positive background check on any of the databases requires further evaluation in the decision to grant or deny the license. In 2008, the legislature required completion of criminal background checks on all health care applications. To be eligible for licensure, all out of state applicants must submit an FBI fingerprint background check. The Nursing Commission adopted rules allowing temporary practice permits to address delays in receiving background information from the FBI. A temporary permit Washington State Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission 1103 Report 9

10 (60 days) may be issued if the nurse meets all requirements and has satisfactory HIPDB and NurSYS background checks. Comparison with national research and data regarding regulatory effectiveness and patient safety. Table 1 captures the differences in data collected on licensing applications in Arizona, North Carolina and Washington. Both Arizona and North Carolina collect FBI background checks on all initial examination and endorsement applications. Table 1: Differences in nursing licensing Activities in Arizona, North Carolina and Washington (licensed practical and registered nursing licenses only) Licensing Activities Initial Examination Endorsement Renewal NurSYS * data bank check Healthcare Integrity and Protection Data Bank (HIPDB) check State Patrol Background Check FBI Criminal Background Check AZ Yes AZ Yes AZ Yes NC Yes NC Yes NC Yes WA Yes WA Yes WA Yes AZ Yes AZ Yes AZ No NC Yes NC Yes NC No WA Yes WA Yes WA No AZ No AZ No AZ No NC No NC No NC No WA Applications with WA No WA No Wa state addresses AZ All applications AZ Yes AZ No NC All applications NC Yes NC No WA Out of state WA Yes WA No addresses only On-line licensing AZ Must download and submit with fingerprint card AZ Must download and submit with fingerprint card NC Yes NC Yes NC Yes WA No WA No WA Yes Source: Arizona, North Carolina and Washington State Boards of Nursing *NurSYS is the only database in the United States containing unduplicated licensure information. Individual nurses can be licensed in multiple states, but the individual has only one record in NurSYS. **Washington produces a paper license with the initial examination application and licensure. Renewals are paperless. Arizona produces a paper license. North Carolina does not produce any paper licenses. The numbers in all tables and figures in this report represent activity for only licensed practical and registered nurses. On further discussions related to criminal background checks, the executive directors from Arizona and North Carolina described their regulation of nursing assistants and the associated criminal background evaluations and outcomes. In Washington, the Secretary of Health regulates the licensure of nursing assistants. In Arizona and North Carolina, the boards of nursing regulate the licensure, practice and discipline of nursing assistants. In Washington, the AZ Yes Washington State Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission 1103 Report 10

11 Nursing Commission approves the curriculum and the training programs used by certified nursing assistant training programs and define where nursing assistants can work. The Nursing Commission chose eleven CORE licensing measures for comparison. The full board of nursing surveys from Arizona, North Carolina and Washington are included in Appendix E. The surveys captured licensing activity for fiscal year 2012 for each state. Table 2: Nursing licensing performance measures, Fiscal year 2012 CORE element Arizona North Carolina Washington Initial examination applications, 3,583 6,151 4,234 Endorsement applications 2,827 4,949 4,969 Total applications 6,410 11,100 9,203 Licensure by initial exam, days Licensure by endorsement, days Average days for licensure decisions FTEs, licensure manager FTEs, licensure staff Total FTEs Licensure, total salaries 401, , ,640 Expenses, verification * 0 0 Expenses, endorsement 1,116 * 152,205 Expenses, examination 1,030 * 3,000 Expenses, renewal 1,631 * 8,118 Total salaries and expenses 405, , ,963 *No data supplied in these fields on the National Council of State Boards of Nursing survey * Source: Arizona, North Carolina and Washington State Boards of Nursing Total Full Time Equivalents (FTE) per applications: AZ: 6.60/ 6,410 =.0010 NC: 8.55/11,100 =.0007 WA: 10.40/ 9,203 =.0011 Total Salaries and Expenses per FTE: AZ: 405,071/ 6.60 = $61,374 NC: 726,914/ 8.55 = $85,019 WA: 595,963/10.40 = $57,304 License Expenses per license decisions: AZ: 405,071/6410 = $ NC: 726,914/11100 = $ WA: 595,963/9203 = $ Negligible differences exist in the total Full Time Equivalents per applications among the three state boards of nursing. Both Arizona and North Carolina complete more criminal Washington State Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission 1103 Report 11

12 background activities than Washington. Arizona and North Carolina both complete FBI criminal background checks on all applicants for initial examination and endorsement. North Carolina is seeking legislation in 2013 to conduct FBI criminal background checks on renewal of licenses. Important differences exist among the three state boards of nursing in expenses for licensing activities. Although the volume of license process actions is very different among the states, the expense per action is very similar. While there are more staff FTEs in Washington, the salary expenses per staff are lower than in Arizona and North Carolina. Evaluation of efficiency and effectiveness 1. Both the Arizona and North Carolina boards of nursing conduct more FBI criminal background checks per licensee than Washington. 2. The Arizona and North Carolina boards of nursing perform the licensing activities for nursing assistants at a level higher than registration (certification). 3. Total licensing expenses per FTE are higher for the Arizona and North Carolina boards of nursing than in Washington. 4. The Nursing Commission consistently makes licensing decisions on the day of receiving the last document for initial examination applications and endorsement of a license. 5. The data did not demonstrate appreciable differences in the length of time to make a licensing decision in Arizona and Washington. Washington State Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission 1103 Report 12

13 Nursing education activities: Comparison of efficiency, effectiveness, timeliness, personnel and financial resources Prior to the Pilot Project Nursing licensure decisions depend on the regulation of nursing education activities by boards of nursing. All new applicants in all states and United States territories must graduate from a nursing program approved by the state board of nursing. All new graduates must successfully pass the NCLEX examination to be licensed in any state or United States territory. State boards of nursing regulate nursing education programs to assure they meet regulatory standards. The span of regulatory authority for the state boards of nursing varies from state to state, as do the regulatory requirements. The increases in the baby boomer population led to predictions of increased need for health care resources and nurses. This predicted shortage of nurses prompted changes in nursing education programs. In Washington, the Council of Nursing Educators of Washington State is evaluating standard prerequisite requirements for all registered nursing programs. Nursing education programs located outside of Washington State request approval of their nursing education programs to allow their students to complete clinical requirements in Washington. There are increasing on-line registered nurse to baccalaureate nursing education programs and pre-licensure programs seeking a presence in Washington State. Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner programs located outside of Washington State are seeking Nursing Commission advice on approval requirements to allow their students to gain clinical experience in Washington. These trends increase the regulatory activity of the board of nursing. The Nursing Commission revised nursing education regulations in The revised regulations define requirements for program administration, curriculum, and necessary resources. Achievements made and innovations implemented during the Pilot Project The Nursing Commission conducts site surveys of nursing education programs to evaluate compliance with regulatory requirements for curriculum, faculty, equipment and facility resources, and financial resources to sustain nursing education programs. Based on the survey results, the Nursing Commission may continue the full approval, place the program on conditional approval, or withdraw approval. In Washington, there are 39 approved schools of nursing. Each school may include several programs: nursing assistants, licensed practical nursing, registered nursing and advanced registered nurse practitioner. From July 1, 2008, through July 1, 2012, the Nursing Commission placed eleven different nursing programs on conditional approval. Six of the eleven programs improved their approval status from conditional approval to full approval, three programs remained on conditional approval status for multiple years, one program repeated conditional approval status, and one new program obtained conditional approval status in Washington State Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission 1103 Report 13

14 The Nursing Commission uses reports from the United States Department of Education s approved nursing accrediting bodies to evaluate nursing education programs. Reviewing and using the reports decreased the amount of time needed in approval of nursing education programs. The Nursing Commission retains the authority to conduct site surveys of accredited nursing education programs if the program s national accreditation status changes or if the Nursing Commission identifies substantial concerns about the program. These concerns included complaints against the program and decreasing NCLEX pass rates. The Nursing Commission provides annual training to all new nursing education program administrators on regulatory requirements. The Nursing Commission must produce an annual report summarizing trends in nursing education in Washington. The annual report includes annual NCLEX pass rates for each program, trends in curriculum, and numbers of graduates per program. Schools of nursing provided the Nursing Commission with data on a paper survey. The annual report survey is now an electronic survey sent to program administrators. The program administrator completes the online survey and returns this to the Nursing Commission. The Nursing Commission compiles the results and electronically releases the report to each program. The Nursing Commission publishes the full report on their website. The annual report includes information on the percentage of new graduates passing the NCLEX examination per nursing education program. The Nursing Commission refers to this data as the program pass rate. Regulations require all nursing programs to have 80% of their graduates pass the NCLEX examination. The most recent annual report compared Washington state nursing programs with the national average for pass rates LPNs: Washington average pass rate of 91.95% compared to the national average of 87.90%. RNs: Washington average pass rate of 90.32% compared to the national average of 84.84% The Nursing Commission also conducts site surveys of nursing assistant training programs. There are over 200 Nursing Assistant Training Programs in Washington State. Nursing Assistant training programs exist in nursing homes, community colleges, high school training programs and private training sites. The Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) regulates nursing homes in Washington State for compliance with federal standards. The Nursing Commission, DSHS, the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, the Workforce Training and Education Board, and the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges each have some regulatory responsibilities for nursing assistant programs depending on the setting for the program. Comparison with national research and data regarding regulatory effectiveness and patient safety. The Nursing Commission compared thirteen CORE performance measures on nursing education programs with the Arizona and North Carolina boards of nursing. Table 3 includes the measures and outcomes. Washington State Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission 1103 Report 14

15 Table 3: Nursing education performance measures, Fiscal year 2012 CORE element Arizona North Carolina Washington Education programs with initial approval in 2012 Education programs with existing full approval Education programs placed on conditional approval in 2012 Total existing nursing education programs Programs received initial approval Programs received full approval Programs, approval withdrawn * 2 0 Programs denied initial approval Total activity in FY FTE Education Consultant FTE Education admin staff Total FTEs Total salaries, Education approval $192,404 $413,848 $161,986 Travel, education approval ,226 1,549 Expenses, distribution of materials * 19,009 2,536 Other costs of education approval 62 8,230 28,624 Total salaries and expenses $192,883 $459,313 $194,695 *No data supplied in this field on the National Council of State Boards of Nursing survey Source: Arizona, North Carolina and Washington State Boards of Nursing Activity per educational program AZ: 3/ 35 = 8.6 % programs with activity NC: 18/123 = 14.6 % programs with activity WA: 2/ 45 = 4.4 % programs with activity FTEs per educational program AZ: 1.5/ 35 =.04 NC: 4.2/123 =.03 WA: 2.0/ 45 =.04 Expenses per educational program AZ: $192,883/ 35 = $5, NC: $459,313/123 = $3, WA: $194,695/ 45 = $4, Washington State Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission 1103 Report 15

16 The North Carolina board of nursing conducts the largest number of program approvals of the three boards of nursing and has the largest number of programs in the state with 123 programs. Differences in the FTEs per education program did not vary greatly among the three boards of nursing. Notable differences in expenses per nursing education program exist among the three boards of nursing. Evaluation of efficiency and effectiveness The North Carolina board of nursing conducted more activities per nursing education program with fewer FTEs and associated expenses per program. Washington State Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission 1103 Report 16

17 Disciplinary activities: Comparison of efficiency, effectiveness, timeliness, personnel and financial resources Prior to the Pilot Project A primary responsibility of the Nursing Commission is public protection. The Nursing Commission achieves protection through the disciplinary process. While the majority of nurses in Washington practice safely, a number of nurses do not. Disciplinary action removes unfit nurses and brings unskilled nurses to a higher level of safe practice through monitoring, education and supervision. By intervening when issues are initially identified, the Nursing Commission prevents future practice issues. Delays in discipline result in unsafe or unskilled nurses continuing to practice. The disciplinary process identifies public concern through the complaint process. The Nursing Commission evaluates complaints every week. The Nursing Commission determines if the complaint requires investigation, if the complaint can be closed without any further work, or if the complaint can be resolved without discipline. The investigation collects evidence to support cases disposition decisions. All decisions made by the Nursing Commission must be legally defensible and supported by sufficient evidence. The process involves investigators, attorneys, and discipline staff. The process may include a hearing or settlement. In , the Health Professions Quality Assurance division of the Department of Health worked on complaints representing about five percent of the 319,292 credentialed health care providers in the state, over 97,000 of these being nurses. Investigating the highest priority cases caused a backlog of lower priority investigations. An increase in the number of nursing graduates and applicants produced an increase in investigations due to positive criminal background checks and personal data questions. In July 2008, 1499 new applications resulted in 40 applications with positive personal data question or criminal background results. Achievements made and innovations implemented during the Pilot Project In the first year of the pilot project, an analysis of the resources for the Nursing Commission revealed the need for additional investigative staff as well as licensing staff (discussed above). Delays in discipline resulted in unsafe or unskilled nurses continuing to practice. The increase in licensing fees supported hiring new investigators, nursing consultants, an Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner Consultant, and disciplinary staff. The decision packages also identified the need for increased staff in the Washington Health Professional Services (WHPS) program. The WHPS program monitors nurses and other health professionals with impairment issues related substance use and abuse. The WHPS program uses a strict contract including required body fluid testing, workplace monitoring and supervision, evaluation for safe practice, and required support groups. The Nursing Commission received support from professional nursing associations, unions, employers, and educators to provide satisfactory licensing services and the increase in fees. The Nursing Commission presented decision packages (Appendix D) to Governor Gregoire for Washington State Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission 1103 Report 17

18 consideration. Governor Gregoire accepted the packages and included them in the budget for The state legislature adopted the packages in the budget. At the beginning of the pilot project, four investigators moved from Health Professions Quality Assurance to the Nursing Commission Unit. One of the investigators became the supervisor. Investigators and support staff were hired oriented and completed required training. There are currently ten investigators, one chief investigator, and six disciplinary staff to support the work from the receipt of the complaint through the completion of the investigation and case disposition phase. Figure 2 shows the decrease in investigations from July 1, 2008 to July 1, Table 4 captures the investigations at the beginning of the pilot project, July 1, 2008, the beginning of fiscal year 2012, and the end of the month of publication of the report, November 30, Days Open Investigation timelines July 1, July 1, 2012 Active investigations Investigations open beyond 200 days Investigations open beyond 350 days Age of oldest case in days Figure 2: Investigation timelines, Source: Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission, Department of Health, Olympia, Washington Table 4: Nursing investigation performance measures at the beginning of the pilot project, during pilot project and current date July 1, 2008 July 1, 2012 November 30, 2012 Active investigations Investigations open beyond 200 days Investigations open beyond 350 days Age of oldest case in days Investigator FTEs Source: Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission, Department of Health, Olympia, Washington Washington State Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission 1103 Report 18

19 Figure 3 shows the increase in the number of investigations completed per fiscal year by the Nursing Commission. Table 5 captures the number of investigations completed in each fiscal year, July 1 to June 30, and the percent increase from year to year Investigations completed by fiscal year, Figure 3: Investigations completed, Source: Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission, Department of Health, Olympia, Washington Table 5: Nursing investigations closed per fiscal year Fiscal Year Investigations completed Total complete Percent Change Total complete Percent Increase Total complete Percent Increase Total complete Percent Increase Total complete Percent Increase % % % % Source: Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission, Department of Health, Olympia Washington The investigative report completed by each investigator was revised to increase the efficiency of its use throughout the disciplinary process. When an investigation is completed, the investigator summarizes the evidence collected in a report. The narrative in the report was reduced to bullet points. Nursing commission members and attorneys must review the evidence and use the investigative report. Changing the format decreased the amount of time needed to review the evidence presented in the investigation. During the pilot project, the Nursing Commission decreased the backlog of investigations by 48% and increased the number of investigations completed by 71%. Figure 4 shows the dramatic decrease in the number of existing investigations and investigation closed within 170 days. Table 4 also captures the 37% decrease in time used in investigations Washington State Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission 1103 Report 19

20 Total investigations per quarter Investigations completed per quarter Percent of investigations completed within 170 days Figure 4: Number of investigations per quarter completed within 170 days Source: Performance Measure 2.4, Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission, Department of Health, Olympia Washington Nursing consultants analyze completed nursing practice investigations and provide the Nursing Commission, nurses and nursing employers with trends in discipline. The nursing consultants complete the analysis using a standardized tool developed by the NCSBN. The tool determines if there were gaps in nursing practice. The consultants submit the results to a national database. The data collection identifies areas of practice concerns throughout the United States that may be addressed by nursing education or regulation. The nursing consultants provide this information to the Nursing Commission, employers and nurses. Knowledge of the trends could decrease nursing discipline and increase patient safety. An Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner (ARNP) consultant was hired. Increasing numbers of ARNP disciplinary cases and requests for information justified the request. Appendix F provided information on the requests and categories for information. The Nursing Commission analyzed the Stipulations to Informal Discipline served in Agreed orders for these stipulations routinely required supervision of the nurse and education. The time from complaint to resolution of the agreed order frequently took over 18 months. The stipulations also used work and time in the following areas: Disciplinary staff and Nursing Commission members for intake and assessment of the complaint Nursing Commission members to decide if the allegations required an investigation Investigation of the allegation(s) Legal review of the allegation and investigation A Nursing Commission member to review the evidence Nursing Commission members determining conditions of the stipulation Because of the results of this analysis, the Nursing Commission adopted the Early Remediation program. During the intake and assessment phase of the disciplinary process, the Nursing Washington State Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission 1103 Report 20

21 Commission may offer the Early Remediation Program to a nurse if there is minimal patient harm or injury, and the nurse agrees to a plan to improve practice. If the nurse successfully completes the plan, there is no investigation or legal action. This program improved the efficiency and decreased costs associated with disciplinary actions. Both the Arizona and North Carolina boards of nursing use more non-disciplinary actions than the Nursing Commission. This strategy aligns with the movement towards analyzing errors and near misses as opportunities to improve practice. Comparison with national research and data regarding regulatory effectiveness and patient safety. The Nursing Commission compared twenty CORE disciplinary measures with the state boards of nursing in Arizona and North Carolina. Table 6 describes the data elements. Table 6: Disciplinary performance measures, Fiscal year 2012 CORE element Arizona North Carolina Washington New complaints received FY Complaints closed without action Cases assigned to investigations Investigative cases resolved with disciplinary action Investigative cases resolved with non-disciplinary action Length of time (in days) from opening investigation to resolution Formal hearings conducted Cases appealed in FY Cases appealed in FY Total appeals in 2011 and FTEs investigative staff, nurse FTEs investigative staff, non nurses FTEs investigative staff, admin support FTEs investigative staff attorney 1.8 * 0.0 FTEs, investigative process, contract Total FTEs for investigative functions Discipline total salaries $1,819,073 $ 995,061 $353,664 Attorney salaries 246,617 65,125 1,187,553 Investigator salaries 1,230 12,511 1,002,925 Hearing costs 54,548 29, ,448 Compliance costs * 12,650 55,511 Alternative program expenses * 70, ,807 Total salaries and costs associated with discipline $2,121,468 $1,185,249 $3,351,908 *No data supplied in this field on the National Council of State Boards of Nursing survey * Source: Arizona, North Carolina and Washington State Boards of Nursing Washington State Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission 1103 Report 21

22 The data reported on the surveys for length of time from opening investigation to resolution of a case was not consistent among the three state boards of nursing. Washington and North Carolina reported a range of dates while Arizona gave a distinct number. Further discussions with the executive directors provided consistent data for comparison. There is a distinct difference in the number of days from opening an investigation to resolution. This figure is based on the number of cases that went to hearing in 2012 and the days from opening the investigation to resolution. Because of the dramatic difference, further information was requested from the executive directors in Arizona and North Carolina. The data was confirmed. Cases assigned to investigations per FTE and expenses: AZ: 1,020/27.3 = 37.4 at $2,121,468 NC: 652/ 9.5 = 68.6 at $1,185,249 WA: 611/12.0 = 50.9 at $3,351,908 Arizona opens more cases and dedicates more FTEs to investigations. Arizona s costs associated with discipline are less than Washington s costs associated with discipline. North Carolina opens a similar number of investigations with Washington with fewer FTEs dedicated to investigations and lower costs associated with discipline than Washington. Arizona and North Carolina both use significantly fewer days to resolve cases that go to hearings. Evaluation of efficiency and effectiveness 1. The Arizona and North Carolina boards of nursing both use programs similar to the Early Remediation program, and have many more years of experience using these programs. Arizona resolved 382 cases with non-disciplinary actions and North Carolina resolved 222 cases with non-disciplinary actions. Washington resolved 18 cases using a non-disciplinary program. 2. Both the Arizona and North Carolina boards have lower expenses associated with disciplinary processes than Washington does. 3. Both Arizona and North Carolina use less time to adjudicate their cases than Washington does. Washington State Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission 1103 Report 22

23 Financial resources: Comparison of Operating Expenses Prior to the Pilot Project Prior to the pilot project, allotments for spending and licensure fees were not adequate to address the resource needs of the Nursing Commission. The decision packages previously discussed identified the needed resources, including an increase in licensing fees. According to RCW , all health professions must use licensing fees to support all expenses associated with their work. There are no general state funds used to support any functions performed by the Nursing Commission. Achievements made and innovations implemented during the Pilot Project The additional authority and budgeting responsibility identified in RCW directed the Nursing Commission to develop its budget for the biennium to be included with the Department of Health s budget. Governor Gregoire accepted the decision packages and included them in the budget for The state legislature adopted the decision packages in the budget. During the pilot project, the Nursing Commission experienced spending reductions as directed by the Governor and legislature. During the 2009 fiscal year, the Nursing Commission adopted the following strategies to decrease spending: 1. Temporary reduction in service days. During the biennium, all state agencies were directed to decrease staff salaries. The Department of Health closed one day per month. Licensing and investigative staff was allowed to continue functioning. In the budget, all employees received one day per month reduction in salary and a corresponding day s service. 2. Elimination of out of state travel unless funded for by a third party. 3. Fifty percent reduction in Nursing Commission face-to-face board meetings per year (with other meetings held by videoconference). While many board members prefer meeting in person, annual evaluations of the board performance demonstrated that just as many board members preferred the videoconference meetings to travel. This decreased board pay and expenses associated with travel. 4. Reduced paper documents associated with licensing, disciplinary and nursing education responsibilities. a. The Nursing Commission purchased laptop computers for each member to use for meetings and disciplinary documents. b. The packets for business meetings are posted on the Nursing Commission webpage prior to each meeting. Nursing Commission members and the public access all public documents supporting the business meetings on the Nursing Commission web site. c. The Nursing Commission began using webinar and Secured File Transfer Protocols (SFTP) to decrease mailing disciplinary cases and increase the security of the information. d. Produce one paper license for nurses on initial licensure. Nurses no longer receive a paper copy of their license with each renewal. The Provider Credential Washington State Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission 1103 Report 23

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